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Personality meditations

A while ago I was asked about my personality type based on Jungian typology. And I promised to answer, so here goes =)

But, I decided to start writing fist, before taking that test and before reading any instructions on the test page. Just to openly explicate my thoughts about personality tests. Then, after taking the test I can write more and reflect on my previous thoughts - to see if taking the test has any impact on the way I think about personality tests.

So, when thinking about personality tests, for me the first question is: "What is personality?". Obviously, it has something to do with traits and characteristics which are long-term and typical for an individual person. Like, if someone is peaceful and calm for 999 days, and then one day is seen to express a fit of anger, nobody will say "you are such an angry person!" - no, on the contrary people would wonder "uh, I didn't expect that, normally you are such a peaceful person, so what makes you go angry now?". OK, this may sound so simple and obvious that there is nothing to ponder here, right? No, for me there is a real question hidden here. Let me use a metaphor, an another short fictional story;


Emme likes to play football and to dance and to leap around. But one day in the excitement of a football match Emme collides with another player, falls down and lies on the ground, unable to get up. Emme is taken to hospital, where they find out that Emme's leg is very seriously broken. The doctors say that it will take a full year to heal, and for the first six monts Emme has to sit in a wheelchair. Well, Emme is determined to get fully healed, to return to the joy of leaping around, dancing and playing football. After five months Emme has learned to maneuver the wheelchair at ease. Emme goes nearly everywhere with the wheelchair. And one day, in the local library, Emme is interviewed by a psychology student for a scientific research.
- Hello, do you have a moment to answer some simple questions for a scientific enquiry?
- Sure, I'll be glad to answer, go ahead.
- Is it typical for you to leap around in joy, to dance and to play football?
- Hmmm, er, what does 'typical' mean here?
- Uh oh, it means that do you this kind of things regularly, and do you enjoy doing them?
- What does 'regularly' mean?
- Are you kidding? When was the last time you were dancing?
- Six months ago.
- When was the last time you were playing football?
- Five months ago.
- OK, so that doesn't sound very regular to me. I'll tick "no, Emme doesn't enjoy leaping around, dancing and playing football."
- NOOOOO! THAT IS NOT TRUE! Of course I do enjouy them, they are part of my personality.
- Then why don't you do those things you enjoy so much?
- Because my leg is broken and I need to recover before I can return to those things I enjoy. This is just a temporary situation, and not typical at all.
- OK, I see. So we make it "yes, Emme enjoys leaping around in joy, dancing and playing football."
- Fine. And do you have more questions?
- Yes. When is the next time you plan to go dancing?
- Hmm, probably after seven months or so.
- WHAT? That doesn't sound very regular to me!
....

Yup. I've had a feeling that depressions masks away some aspects of my true inner personality. But, since my depression has been rather chronic, it sometimes becomes hard to distinguish between "temporary issues which are not part of my true personality" and "long-term traits and characteristics which define my personality". And it all becomes even more fuzzy as I sometimes get confusing feedback from other people.

In Emme's case we can assume that most of the people understand that Emme has to move around with a wheelchair because Emme's leg is broken. Luckily, many people will not be telling Emme "Ah, just forget about that accident you had, get over it! Stand up and go back to playing! If you ruminate over the past issues and collapse into that wheelchair like a poor victim, you will never recover! Come leap and dance with us, it is fun!". But people suffering from major depression or related symptoms often hear that kind of advice. But, then, it must also be said that there are cases when that kind of advice really does the trick. So, let's take an another metaphor.

Imagine a humal soul is like a metal bucket. Everybody has a different kind of bucket - some buckets are bigger and some smaller, some are decorated with paintings of flowers, and some have a golden rim. Some buckets are shiny brand new, other have suffered some damage and have dents. Every time a person sleeps the bucket gets filled with water, which then is used to water the garden of thoughts and feelings. Now, it would be rather common that many people feel that their bucket is not good enough, that others have better buckets. In this case it actually is helpful to learn to accept ones bucket the way it is, and not to compare it to others. The worth of a bucket is its ability to contain water - all the golden rims or decorative paintings are just eye candy not affecting the functionality of the bucket. So, as long as you can carry enough water with the bucket of your soul, there is no reason to feel bad about the size, shape, colour or looks of your bucket. Right.

But then, sometimes when I try to describe the others the way I experience the world at the moment, trying to describe some of the issues vaguely labelled under the term "depression major", people try to offer their help by saying "Oh, don't care about those dents. It is perfectly normal to have some dents, almost everyone has them! Don't ruminate over the past issues and just enjoy hauling water with the fine unique bucket of your soul!". OK, I can understand that kind of reaction, since it is seems to be so very common that people have problems with accepting all the dents or the lack of golden decorations on their soul bucket. So, it is understandable that people assume that I am typical, and they interpret my descriptions according to the stuff they feel themselves and what they think is normal. Nothing wrong with that. Still, I think that sometimes it can happen that a dent is so severe that it has a hole.

And even in the case of having a dent with a hole, it doesn't mean that your soul bucket is bad and worth nothing. No, it all depends on the size and location of the hole. Or, the number of holes. Having just a tiny hole near the upper rim of the bucket is pretty much nothing to worry about. Having a big hole in the bottom of the bucket is a real pain, and you have to constantly refill your bucket as all the water keeps leaking out before you can water all of your soul garden. Or, having a number of tiny holes every here and there is equally painful - but if you describe just one hole to the others, they might think "oh, just a tiny little minor puncture - don't whine about it! I have one too, and I've been living perfectly normal life with it for years!". Yes that is true, if that tiny little minor puncture is the only hole there is. But it is different if there are two dozens of such minor punctures.

Finally, if I talk about the issues with my mental well-being, I never think that my soul bucket is bad and worth nothing because of all these dents and holes. I'm not asking for any kind of extra comfort, compensation, or special rights because of the holes my soul bucket has. No, I'm only interested in how to get those holes fixed. As I know that most of the holes can be fixed. So it would be utterly stupid not to fix a hole which can be easily fixed - you just need to seek around and ask if anyone knows how to best fix this or that kind of hole. (But, pretty often I've experienced even trained professionals of mental health-care having serious difficulties trying to understand that a hole I'm describing is actually a real and not just my delusional whining. Somehow, to fix a hole I'd guess it would start with identifying the existence of the said hole. Just like if a car is broken, the mechanic starts with identifying the problem to find out how to fix it.)

OK, so, as you can see, so far I haven't been talking that much about my real personality nor personality tests. That is because I haven't been so interested in the typology of buckets - I don't care that much if my bucket is tall and thin, plain or decorated. I've been mostly interested in learning to better identify and understand the holes I have, finding ways to fix them. Of course, in some cases, it might happen that I realize that a certain minor puncture is nothing to worry about and that I can accept it as a long-term characteristics of my soul bucket. But, I still feel that I can't go that way with all the holes in my soul. Also, I remember and I have a deep feeling that most of the holes can be fixed, and that my own life would be more enjoyable that way.

So, given a question "how much soul water your bucket can carry for 12 hours?" - I really can't answer. Of course I can say what the situation of the day is, but I feel that it doesn't define my true personality. I can accept all the dents in my soul bucket, but I feel that my true personality has some holes less than I currently have. Also, seen from this perspective, it is more or less useless to dream about how that true personality would be - that remains to be seen. Each wide hole made smaller, and each small hole fixed makes my life easier, enables me to haul more soul water, making my soul garden to re-flourish.

OK, these were my 'prejudices', or my thoughts before taking any personality test. Now I'll switch to the another tab of the web browser and take the test.

---

Here is my score

Erkka is: INFP
Introvert(44%) iNtuitive(59%) Feeling(28%) Perceiving(47%)

You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (44%)
You have distinct preference of Intuition over Sensing (59%)
You have moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (28%)
You have moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (47%)

As you can see, most of the descriptions come with "moderate". Which, I think, is due to my Gemini personality =) I mean, I feel that my personality kind of a has both extremities, I'm stongly "this" and equally strongly "that", and then when replying according to this, it ends up looking like I'm moderately somewhere in between the extremes. Which, to me, doesn't feel about the right description of my real-life personality. (And this, even without considering any of the holes in my soul bucket. I think without the holes I just could go more towards the both extremities, to widen the sphere of my soul space.)

I must say that I found this test a bit more alien that I thought it would be. Mostly because of the stereotypical reason/emotion -dualism the test seemed to presuppose:
10. When making a decision, you rely more on your feelings than on analysis of the situation - what the heck? After decades of exploring the world with both my intuitive feelings and rational analysis, I often find them converging. In most of the situations my intuitive feelings already point to the same direction which I will get if I pause to analyse the situation. And, even more importantly, if there isn't a clear solution in sight, my gut feelings tell me to pause to analyse. So, if I then follow my feelings and pause to make the decision based on analysis, how should I answer question 10.? I'm not anything in between those extremities of "feelings" and "analysis". I'm both, at the same time, with full-blown force. And I feel extremely alienated when suggested that using analysis somehow means lack of feelings.

Same with this one: 15. You trust reason rather than feelings. I answered "no", and felt rather alien about it. Whenever reason says "A" and feelings say "B", I usually step back to think, to meditate, to contemplate, to feel and to intuit, until - most of the time - either reason turns towards "B", or it starts to feel like "A", or they both tell me "C, it is C!".

This 19. Your actions are frequently influenced by your emotions is also a rather difficult question. I do admit that I don't understand what does it mean. Does it mean that there are situations where my emotions say "B", but I ignore it and do "A" instead? Or does it mean that my actions don't arouse any emotions at all, and I'm just acting in a perfectly logical and rational manner like a robot is supposed to do? In either case, I find that any answer to such a question is not going to describe the way I feel my soul bucket is. Take the classical example of slaughtering a lamb. No doubt, I have emotions of compassion towards the lamb, it feels somewhat bad to end a life, and some of the smells make me feel slightly nauseous. But do I act unaffected by those emotions? No, those emotions are embraced by a stronger and deeper emotions of humility, feeling-connected-to-nature, accepting-my-place-in-the-food-chain and making-a-decision-and-carrying-it-out-in-as-clear-and-beautiful-way-as-possible. The moment I thrust a knife blade into the neck of the stunned lamb to cut the arteries, the moment I'm acting purely guided by all of these emotions. (And, afterwards, if I pause to rationally analyse the situation, all of those emotions make sense from the logical and scientific point of view. I fail to see a contradiction of emotion / reason here.)

Then, another topic:
23. After prolonged socializing you feel you need to get away and be alone. I answered YES. But this one clearly has more to do with the holes of my soul bucket. No, don't get me wrong - I know that even without any depression-like symptoms I will need a healthy dose of solitude. I see my need to be alone, and I don't see it as a hole in the bucket. Some of it might be dents, but dents are not a problem as long as the water stays in. Holes are a problem, as the more the bucket leaks, the more often it needs to be refilled. Dropping the metaphors, for me there are situations when I recognize that I feel unnecessary panic and fear in social situations. Often I can cope with that inner panic and behave in a pretty normal way, so that most of the time the other people might not even notice the panic I carry inside. But coping with panic is very energy consuming, and soon I need to get away and to be alone. Especially, as this often happens also with the people I really like, it is bit like wanting to return to playing football but having a broken leg. I have an inner feeling that without the inner panic I would enjoy some social situations more deeply, more freely, more fully, and find them less energy-consuming. Therefore, I'd like to fix certain holes in the social area of my soul bucket. Not to have my bucket look like "normal", not to be like the others. But purely to fix my own bucket so that it better serves me with watering the soul plants I love.

Finally, 39. You are strongly touched by the stories about people's troubles makes me wonder. I often hear that to be strongly touched means to be over-flooded with the pains and trouble of others. If I hear a person telling a story about her troubles, then if I start crying because of all the pain the story has, then I'm strongly touched. And if I'm not flooded with pain and sorrow, then I'm rational and distanced, right? Once again, I do understand that many people find it that way, it is just that personally I can't relate with these dichotomies. I think most of the time I'm deeply touched with the stories of other people - but most of the time those feelings of empathy are enveloped with feelings of cosmic tranquility and peace. After surviving this and that trouble, I don't get knocked over with stories of troubles. I sympathize with them, I feel the pain and sorrow involved, and I have a feeling of resilience, I feel "it will be all right!", and therefore I don't feel like crying and weeping in the face of human problems.

On the other hand, sometimes I might be moved to tears simply because of the beauty of the story. That happened yesterday in the local supermarket. I went to the counter to pay, and before me in the queue there was a gentleman carrying only a 24-can case of beer. Something in his habitus told that his winter clothes were donated by a charity and that he might be more towards the sad end of alcoholic spectrum. Yet, he behaved like a polite gentleman, and the lady working at counter treated him as a fellow human. The man handed some money to the lady and grumbled something which the lady couldn't pick every word of. But then the lady understood that the money was not enough to pay for the whole case, so they needed to remove some cans from the case to make the price lower. But somehow, the fingers of that man were in a poor condition and he couldn't remove the cans himself. So, the kind lady did it for him - smiled and said "I remove three cans, and now it is OK, you'll get a 50 cent of change, here you go!" The man left with his reduced case of beer, and I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye - merely by the way how the lady treated the alcoholic man with dignity. Well, I know the situation is bit more complex than that - it might be justified to ask, if it would be more compassionate to tell the man not to buy that beer because it is not good for him, and to hand him a leaflet about free treatment for alcoholics? What dignity there is to help a man to ruin his life? Then, on the other hand, I think there is some more layers to this. For example, telling that "drinking that much beer is not good for you, go seek therapy!" might be like saying "your bucket is not good with all those dents on it, I don't want to interact with you, go away and only come back when your bucket looks better!". Given that situation in the supermarket, I think the lady found the best possible way to show dignity towards the man, to tell that "dents or not, it is not a problem for me, I'll serve you just like the others, and offer some extra help if your hands aren't in a shape to remove three cans from the case." - and, ultimately, it might be this kind of little actions of friendliness, which one day might accumulate and make an alcoholic to seek help for his problems. Or, at least, to die with what dignity there is left. (This is towards what I mean by cosmic tranquility - I know sometimes some problems are too big to solve, and eventually a person will collapse under the burden of trouble. Yet, that doesn't make the universe seem like a bad place in my eyes. Trouble and death of an individual is always a tragedy, there is nothing merry about it. But hidden inside all the misery, we all are made of the mysterious Flow of Life, and that great Flow of Life in itself is somehow wonderful and beautiful.)

PS. No picture today. Instead I'll mention about the title. A classic book by philosopher Edmund Husserl is titled Cartesian Meditations, where he goes to explore and to re-define some of the key notions of the philosophical legacy of René Descartes. The central topics are mind (the conscious experience) / body (the world out there, which is thought to be reflected in the conscious experience). I sometimes like to mimic that title, especially when dealing with these same questions =)

EDIT: Ah, more or less unrelated, just a song by Hermmani Turkki.

tags: 
depression
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Comments

Aha, I am supposedly an INTJ (though somewhat bordering on INTP), but I don't know how seriously I can take such personality tests. I think it can be easy to project yourself into them and mistake generalities for specifics, kind of like with horoscopes and other such things. :3

Probably this blog is crowded mainly by IN-somethings, me being INTJ as well :) )

Hehe, maybe people who aren't IN-something find my blog boring to read, so only us IN-somethings are left hanging around here =)

Well, but I'll reply here both to Mr. Polecat and Paul K.

The way I think about it, the value of personality typology is measured by its ability to convey helpful insights for a person navigating his / her life. (And it is the same for horoscope personality descriptions, too.) If a person X gets some clarifying insights or empowering feelings when reading his / her personality test results, then that is what counts. For me, this is seldom the case, but I perfectly do understand that some of my friends see their personality tests or horoscope typologies providing useful insights.

Writing this blog entry was also partly inspired by finally reading a text about Highly Sensitive Personalities. That is one of the things people have been mentioning a lot over the past years, and sometimes also offering it for me, as a clarifying idea which could help me with my own personality. I've been vaguely familiar of the idea, and now I finally read through one text. I found it describing personality traits and stuff which I've been personally familiar with since my early childhood. It didn't help me to better understand myself, but it greatly helped me to understand the others, who have found this HSP-thing as helpful for them. As, nearly half of the text was about how people are relieved when they finally get to read that there is actually a name and a sensible description for their personality traits. That a lot of HSP-people have been internally worried if there is something wrong about them, because they are not like the majority of people and because they quickly get exhausted in situations the others seem to enjoy. Ah, OK, so now this helps me to understand what is the value of HSP-texts for these people. I understand and respect that - good! But, at the same time, I felt that this HSP-stuff has very little to offer for me - I've never been that worried about not being like the others, and right from the beginning I've just navigated my life relying on the guidance of all the HSP-traits. It never came to my mind to question the value of my own sensitivity - on the contrary I've often been surprised to notice how many people seem to be almost completely blind to things which seem vividly self-evident for me. Hehe - years before I knew anything about this HSP-description, I just thought that it is the natural state, and surprisingly many people are somehow defected or under-developed when it comes to sensitivity =)

So, although we all share a lot of things in common, yet each person travels his or hers unique path in life. A lot of people encounter a river to be crossed, and for them it is helpful to read stories about different ways of crossing a river - to find a ford, to build a raft, to swim - any method which happens to suit the unique situation encountered in ones path of life. But then, stories about rafting cross a river might be interesting but not personally helpful for someone who is not facing a river to be crossed. I don't know but it seems that at least in our western cultural sphere we have been somewhat obsessed with the idea that there should be Single Truth for everyone. One Religion which is The True and others are wrong. One Way To Paradise etc. While reading about the Chinese mountain hermits, many of the wise ones said that because people are different, there are different traditions of spiritual practice.

I think it is pretty much the same with stuff like personality typologies, horoscopes, self-help literature, religious movements etc. If I say that I didn't find thing X helpful for me, some people feel that I'm saying "this X is wrong and it is stupid for others to be interested in X." Oh no, no, on the contrary, I always think that it is perfectly OK for other people to find helpful ideas in things which don't touch my soul. We are all different, and that is just great =)

Using the words 'mental health' together with 'professional' is very funny.

Hehe, I see two questions here;

1. As a non-native, I might sometimes get my English wrong, misunderstanding some words or just breaking the rules of grammar.

2. Similarly, as I am not aware of all the cultural connotations and double-meanings of words and phrases, I might sometimes use words and sentences in combinations which might sound extremely funny for a person who is familiar with the nuances of spoken language. For example, phrases like "get to second base" sound perfectly innocent for a non-native speaker, and usually they don't teach that kind of phrases at the University English class, where we were mostly concerned with making sense of the language used in academic papers... So, I only learned that later on, and I had to ask my friend who works as a translator.

Sometimes, before hitting the "publish"-button I wish that my text doesn't contain any non-intended vulgar or stupid second meanings which are self-evident for natives and which I'm not aware of =)

Well, yeah, and in this case, I simply don't know what is funny with the combination of 'mental health' and 'professional' - I guess it has something to do with cultural connotations which I'm not familiar with.

no,it's not that. I look at the mental health field as one filled with quite a bit of ignorance. So, I was being a bit snide. To lack an understanding of the mind, and then stir things up without understanding how it works, is not how a professional would operate in any other field of endeavor. Take psychology - meaning 'study of' and psyche or soul. All the textbooks start out by saying Man is an animal albeit a more developed one. Man is not an animal. Animals are aware, but animals aren't aware of being aware like Man is. Psychology where it's entirely outcome based isn't bad, but meddling with the mind without a certainty of its structure is silly and sometimes dangerous. And then to apply strong chemical treatments or shock treatments that damage is barbaric. Psychiatry is *shivers*. Here in America, they drug so many kids with nasty drugs that have psychotic break as a side effect and then are surprised that they shoot up their schools. Every single school shooting is done by kids who have been taking those nasty drugs. But the solution for the classmates who survive? They bring in the psychiatrists to offer free treatments to the sad students and they just push more of their drugs. Crazy society we have here. It's one reason why I live so far from the cities now. There is a scale that goes from very very good down to very very evil: psychiatric drug pushing is very far down. Sorry if I step on toes :(

Oh, and I'm surprised by how good your English for it being a non-native language for you - good work on your part.

Well, that was my hunch, which I vaguely included in "cultural connotations".

Luckily, things are slightly different seen from a Finnish point of view. Although, I can recognize what you are speaking about.

But, yeah, for the sake of clarification, I used the term "professional" only to refer to a person who has at least 4 - 6 years of education, and years of experience of working full-time in the field. Then, it is sometimes surprising to see how many professionals actually have very shallow or biased understanding of the field they are working with.

Here in the USA, I believe that we have a horrible tendency to shift the blame for maladjusted children away from its real cause, which I believe is bad (or nonexistent) parenting, and onto the child's mental health...... Instead of looking inside of themselves and identifying how their behavior and lifestyle is negatively affecting their child's psychological development, the bad parent goes to the quack child psychiatrist and gets the child medicated, so that the bad parent can avoid blaming themself and can rationalize their continued poor behavior. While in the meantime the child just gets more screwed up. :(

The single most correlative statistic regarding future criminality of a child in the US is if that child grows up in a household with a single mother. This remains consistent across all other factors such as race, religion, socio-economic status, etc. Now, I am not saying that all single mothers are bad, or that any child that grows up without a dad is going to be messed up... Not suggesting that at all. I think that a good single parent can raise a child very well (indeed, my old man raised my sister and myself just fine by himself). Just that we have a bad sub-culture in the US wherein irresponsible single mothers keep having kids just so that they can get more money from the welfare state instead of actually earning it, and end up being bad parents and screwing up their kids because the kids are just an object through which the bad parent can attach themselves to the "money spigot". The kids start acting out due to a lack of parental empathy, and the bad parent gets them medicated because said parent is too stupid, naive, lazy, or some combination of the above, to see that they the parent are the actual problem. :/

I apologize for the rant. But it is something that makes me sad and a little angry. :( They need to stop giving the money to the bad parent and use it to actually take care of the children that these deadbeat single mothers are screwing up. :/

Ok, I should stop ranting before I make someone angry, hehe. Sorry again! No offense intended to anyone... :3

Hehe, I don't know which is worse: to have a single irresponsible non-empathic parent, or to have two parents both irresponsible, non-empathic and contradicting each other :/ But, yeah, I'd guess we are pretty much pointing to the same direction: problems with bad parenting.

I'm not quite sure what should be done to improve the situation, and that is one of the reasons I've been avoiding writing directly about this kind of issues. Or, to be more precise; I know what I tried to do different from my own parents, and I sometimes discuss parenting with my friends who now have little kids of their own. I like to discuss these topics in a personal grass-roots level. But I have very little ideas when it comes to the political level, ie. the question "what could the society / the state / any organized group of people do to improve the conditions of poor families?".

In Finland we have used to have a welfare state which in some ways functioned pretty well. No, it never was perfect, but some aspects were great, effectively helping some troubled families to get out of their misery. I know people who now are responsible, well educated, hard working adults - but without our welfare system they would've been trapped in the poor conditions of their initial family. So, I can't say that a welfare system in itself is a part of the problem. But I do think that it can be organized in many ways, and some ways are a lot worse than others. So, for me the question would be "if there is any kind of organized support for troubled persons / families, then how should that support be best organized so that it actually delivers the help it is intended to do."

And in that sense, I think that I agree a lot with Mr. Polecat - if there is a system which encourages single parents to go on with their irresponsible nonempathic parenting, then the system clearly is in need of re-arranging and improving.

And here we reach again a terrain where I think that there is no "one solution fits them all". Cultures are different in Finland and USA, so what works here might fail miserably in USA. And USA is such a vast country with a great variation in local sub-cultures, that I'd guess there hardly is one nationwide solution for many questions. Actually, I think the same goes for EU and Finland, too. If you ask me, we could have EU-wide legislation like "no killing, no stealing, no slavery!", and then everything down from that would be up to local communities to organize and to decide. =)

Uh oh, let's see how this goes =) Maybe we will need a separate topics about
a) political discussion
b) general discussion about discussion itself, like questions "is it OK to rant and to let one's uncencored thougts out? What is this thing with some people getting offended - should we avoid that, or should we expect everyone not to get offended? To which extent there are common solutions for everyone, and to which degree it is better to have local solution for local communities? (As, I think, a lot of discussion degenerates into quarrel because of this - members of different sub-cultures fail to agree about common decisions, because they each think that the other is wrong and should adopt the ways of our tribe... But I think that in some cases a better solution would be just to accept there being different tribes with different traditions, values and solutions, living next to each other or intermixed in same area - as long as they both respect the basic common rules like "no killing, no stealing".)

Ps. Again, for the sake of clarification, I should say that when I wrote "if there is any kind of organized support for troubled persons / families," the term support doesn't refer strictly to handing out money or other kinds of financial subsidiaries.

I'm thinking in a formal, abstract way. If there is an organized group of people, who say to all the members of their group: "See, if you don't work we won't give you any financial support. We expect every member of the group to earn their own living and to support their own off-spring, and to do that you'd better work to get money." - now, in my eyes, that counts as an "organized form of support". The group is giving some kind of cultural message which is supposed to encourage the group members, to help the group members to have better lives, to empower the group members to help themselves instead of passively waiting for external donations. So, a lack of financial benefits combined with a cultural message is, to me, a form of support. And I have no doubts than in some groups and in some cultures that way of organizing the group support is better than simply handing out financial benefits.

Yeah man, it's a pretty tough issue, and I am not sure what I think.

I /do/ think that the vast majority of the cultural problems in the USA stem from a dependence on the welfare state, all the way from the very rural poor to the very urban poor. I mean, when an able-bodied or -minded person only consumes and doesn't produce anything of value to put back into society, that is a non-sustainable situation. Why would a person bother to contribute back to society when they can just get on the dole and be lazy all day, right?

On the other hand, I think sometimes good people get into a bad situation through no real fault of their own, because the world is an inherently unfair place. And in those situations, I have absolutely no problem with our society and/or government helping them out just enough to work through the hard time and get past it. Not enough to cause dependence, but enough to kickstart a person in working towards a positive outcome, you know?

I guess I think the problem comes when the people become "addicted" to the welfare state. Because then the "free" money is used to buy votes from the people who have become dependent on it, and that is politically corrupt and culturally regressive, in my opinion.

At the risk of being cliche, I guess I think a "hand-up" is ok, while a "handout" is bad. Nothing is "free" (as in free beer), and when we oppress one group to empower another, by taking the fruits of their labors and redistributing it to a group who hasn't and will never do their duty to society to pay back that labor, well, that runs completely counter to the egalitarian ideas of equality of opportunity that are the linchpin of our western "classical liberal" ideas of individual liberty. And historically that goes nowhere good.

But yeah, it just makes me livid when lazy worthless people hold up their children and say, "But without a handout my children will starve! Think of the children!" Abusing their children by using them as a shield for their own worthlessness, when they have done absolutely nothing to try to provide for them on their own and just want to lazily leech from the fruits of the labors of others instead of working to create their own "wealth" (be that a material or socio-cultural or whatever "wealth") and take care of themselves, grrrrrrr..... :<

Phew! It must be rant day, LOL!

Ahhh, sometimes I don't know when to keep my yap shut. I do sincerely apologize if I say anything offensive. It is something I feel kind of strongly about, though. >_>

Ok, so I thought about this a little more while doing some mindless repetitive work, lol. I think I can state my ideas a little better, in a more general sense.

I think my idea relies on the assumption that "wealth" (be that material or non-material socio-cultural "wealth") is what makes society "better". And by "socio-cultural wealth" I mean doing labor without any material gain which still benefits society, like putting in the effort to raise one's children well, which improves society when those children reach majority and become well-adjusted good-intentioned adults.

The second assumption is that there is no fixed amount of "wealth" that just moves around between people, but that "wealth" is dynamically created and destroyed as a process of the functioning of society. That our labors create "wealth", while our consumption destroys it.

Thus, when a person or group's labors outweigh their consumption, their "wealth" increases. But when their consumption outweighs their labor, then their "wealth" decreases.

But since "wealth" is not a fixed quantity, taking it away from the net-producers and redistributing it to the net-consumers does nothing more than destroy wealth, to the detriment of the society as a whole. Not to mention that this is an oppression against the net-producer. This is the crux of my problem with a society having an "addiction" to the welfare state.

Nay, the real solution (in my opinion) is to work to change the socio-cultural values of the net-consumers so that they instead become net-producers (or at least zero-sum) themselves. Then everyone is better off, and everyone's "wealth" grows, and nobody is oppressed in the process.

That may require a little (just barely enough) kick-start from the welfare state, but as long as it is just enough to be a "hand-up", it doesn't cause the dependence that leads to the unsustainable net-consumer mindset and the oppression of the net-producer, but instead acts in everyone's best interest.

Unfortunately this also requires that we refuse to support able-bodied and/or -minded individuals who refuse to become net-producers. Which makes me feel like kind of an arse. But I can't see how else a society can continue to function in the long-term. Otherwise we undermine the net-producer foundation of said society and it eventually ceases to be a society that preserves individual freedom (due to the necessity of needing to oppress the net-producer to support the net-consumer). And being able to live within a society that supports individual freedom is the whole point (in my opinion).

So far the comment section has not exploded into a flame war, which I'm very happy about =)

Just a quick comment on Mr. Polecat's line of thinking. I'd guess a discussion goes problematical if anyone throws in claims like "99% of single mothers are bad parents just leeching on tax-payer money!" or "anyone receiving any kind of state support is most likely about to become addicted to that support, and therefore we need to scrap all kinds of money hand-outs!". Claims like that would like lead to a fierce debate if it is 99%, or 60% or 6% of single mothers who are bad at parenting. And even if people would agree about something like 6%, they would still disagree if 6% is "a lot" or "such a small figure that there is no need to get worried about that". (Mr. Polecat wisely avoids that by explicating " I think that a good single parent can raise a child very well.", which makes it harder for anyone to start flaming at him for unfairly blaming all the single parents for the bad habits of only some single parents have. This is the classical "none / some / most / all" - stuff, which so often sparks misunderstanding among people.)

When we were discussing the climate change, Mr. Polecat mentioned politically motivated scrap science, and statistics which are biased because of a hidden political agenda. And I don't deny that such things exists. Philosophically speaking, I see this being in the core of the problems of mankind. Solutions are pretty easy to find out with logical reasoning, once we know the facts - but it all gets difficult when we disagree about the facts. We can only verify that much facts with the evidence we personally witness, so most of the time we also have to rely on reports and statistics given by other people. And then arises the question "whose reports we are going to trust, and which reports we are going to dismiss as non-reliable propaganda".

And after that point there is no return - the discussion dies, and all what is left is a war over "my dad has better facts than your dad!" =)

Ps. Again, for the sake of clarification, I'd like to stress the point that this comment is not directed against Mr. Polecat, nor against any other people commenting my blog. But this is loosely inspired by a certain thread about immigration we once had in UrW forums. That thread is a treasure vault when it comes to all the problems of discussion and thinking =) Sometimes I've been thinking that I'd like to comment some of the strangest phenomena in that very thread, but then I've been uninspired to mention the immigration question, because I have a feeling that merely mentioning that question is all too likely to get the discussion side-tracked into an endless jungle of miscommunication =)

I am sorry, man. I am probably being a dick and posting too much questionable stuff on your blog, heh. I will try to keep my opinions a little shorter and more moderate in the future. ;)

No no, I believe in freedom of speech =) And, as I have said, I still would like to believe that people can discuss in a polite way, even when they disagree. I haven't been bothered about your behavior in the blog comment section, so feel free to continue. Then, if the comment section starts to frequent with flame wars, only at that point we have to re-think the comment policy. So far there haven't been major problems, so let's keep it that way =)

Well yes, freedom of speech is good. But still, this is /your/ blog and it is wrong of me to misappropriate it (even if unintentionally) as a platform to spout my annoying rants, hehehe.

So uhmmmm, I forgot what the original topic was... Oh yes, personality types! :3

I wonder which of the MBTI types is most susceptible to going off on long tangential rants, eh? XD

Your comments, I think, have always been more like adding to the discussion.

I do admit that I've been couple of times slightly irritated by Tommi's tangential side-tracking comments, but that is partly because we have common history dating back to the University years, and from my side there already is some pre-built frustration, as I remember that it often was very hard to maintain a proper discussion with Tommi =)

Also, couple of times I was somewhat tired with the emotionally unstable spamming of that one teenager from Czech Republic, and he was also causing occasional trouble elsewhere in the UrW community, and I was not the only one to be occasionally more or less annoyed =) But since he is younger than my own son, I tried to maintain a parental example for him, gently guiding him towards a more polite way of interacting with others. I don't know if he is still reading, he left the UrW forums with some drama, vowing to never return again (which he did already couple of times, then always returning later on =) )

Hehe, well, yes - enough of my meta-talk =) Actually, why I started this reply was only to say that the comment sections enables some HTML tags. It is just that it is not stated anywhere =) So I say it here. Anyone who wants to use highlighting like strong or em can do it with the standard html tags =)

Hello, I came to read your blog after some time, and what I see; Comment about me, isn't that funny? =D
Actually wanted to ask something + to say sorry because the things I did, but past is past and I can't change it, and I can't probably change even your look on me, but that is understandable.
I know how annoying it was, and thank you for being so.. patient. =)
Oh yes and I left UrW forum for good, haha.
I don't know if you believe that, but I have changed, a lot actually. I won't explain this, because there is no need for that.

So just one question related to your comment: What did you mean with emotionally unstable spamming?

Oh yes, and very nice article , I have depressions almost every day, so I understand what you meant with these things. =)
I have moments when I want to "fix the holes", but then depression comes and.. well all my enthusiasm to do something is gone. My depressions usually come without reason(chemistry[?]) or because I overthink life. All what I want to say =)

Cheers!

See, all the time I did my best to be patient with you, and to offer some support and guidance - because I happen to believe that people can and will change. And that the social interaction sometimes contributes towards the change. Also, to me it seems that changes don't always occur instantly, so patience is necessary. EDIT: So, if you now say that you've changed, it seems all natural for me to believe it.

That is one of the great problems with depression - first it lowers your inner energy level, and then it also affects the way you see things, sometimes making things seem "impossible", and often making things seem more negative than they are. (for example, I'm not sure but it somehow seems that you often assume that other people might have very negative attitude towards you, even when people are just expressing a very mild and very polite feedback about your behaviour - so many times I've seen you quickly burst with anger as if you were deeply insulted by the feedback. In my eyes that is just another of the symptoms, and a bit like the soul water leaking out a major hole in the bucket. I'mnot saying this to mock you, I'm just honestly describing the way I've thought of you and your behaviour.) . So, depression maintains itself, often the symptoms are hindering the recovery process. But at the same time it also means that things get easier if and when some holes heal themselves. Gradually there will be more inner energy, and recovery becomes easier and easier. Just keep going and seeking =)

Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving UrW forums or anything. My point was just that since you already had a habit of leaving and returning and constantly changing your alias, it leaves the others in uncertainty - what is left is just a friendly question "well, it remains to be seen if this is the time when he actually does what he says, or if this was just one more temporary outburst of drama and anger, after which he will come back with a new nickname." - and that is what I mean with 'emotionally unstable'. That is not to mock you, it is just a rather neutral description of your behaviour - often typical both for teenagers and for people having depression-like symptoms. A part of the stuff I decided to offer patience and guidance for.

And by 'spamming' I just meant some of those long rapid chains of questions often pretty much unrelated to the original post. But I do admit that maybe 'spam' was not a good choice of word, since 'spamming' carries a negative connotation with it. Maybe 'flooding' might have been a more neutral word =) So, to clarify this, I'd like to say that there never was anything wrong with those 'flooding' chains, and as I said - I never was really annoyed, just sometimes slightly tired, and very seldom slightly annoyed, but nothing so severe. I just wished that peaceful guidance will be slowly helping you to get more balanced.

Hehe, one more clarification from the Finnish point of view. We used to have a welfare state which wasn't that much based on handing benefits to individual families. Of course, we have that kind of system, too, but if you ask me, that is just one minor branch of the whole system. And some aspects of that branch never worked as they were intended to do, but that is not my major concern.

We have had a system where there is a universally free high quality education available for everyone. And free basic health care for everyone. OK, now one could still argue that such systems make certain people lazy, just leeching on the system. But still, people have to work for their money to pay for housing, food, hobbies etc. The free education and health-care is there just to even out the equality of opportunities. If you are a smart kid from a poor lower-paid working class family, just entering the school system you can end up having a university degree and an international career (I know couple of such people). Now, I'm not trying to tell that all the other countries should adopt this kind of system, too. And I do admit that the system had some faults in it, and it could have been working better, and was in need of improvement.

But, I say "we had" and "there was", because over couple of decades our government has been slowly ruining the core of that system, piece by piece, step by step. And, to me it seems that they are doing that mostly because of ideological reasons, not guided by well-founded empirical evidence.

So, this is my cultural background. I'm personally one of the persons who would have just fallen into non-productive misery, if there wasn't a (nearly) free professional health-care available. I've enjoyed two years of tax-payer sponsored psychotherapy, which I couldn't have otherwise afforded, since my depression was so severe that it seriously affected my ability to work. But the therapy greatly helped me to get back on the track, and since that I've been contributing back to the society.

Right on, man. That is exactly what I am talking about. You got a "hand-up" to help pull you out of your funk and get you going again, rather than getting forever stuck in a cycle of perpetual depression and ineffective treatment. Your experience is exactly how I think it ought to work. :)

[while (writing = True) {
skepticism_about_tests = temporarily_off;
fun = fun + 1; }]

Aha you got INFP like me :D It was only a silly curiosity, thank you for your time :) It started from the thought: “Some descriptions from Erkka make me remember myself, would he get a close MBTI, and does it work/accurate with other people? Well, he is a curious fella and everything is good as introspection material, or maybe he already took it, it does not hurt to ask” - And INFP it is :) But your results have low percentage, they are in the frontier of other types, you are a complex mix xD (in fact, the result could be different if done in other website test with different questions, since you seem to be in the limits of INFP)
In fact, even though I got high percentages, I had to take different tests to confirm my type, because every one has different questions or based on different books and some questions I don't understand or I cannot say firmly a Yes or a No. In your case, since you seem in the limits of INFP, maybe your result ins not 100% INFP, could be other. The wikipedia mini-ttest for me was the best and quicker to get a result and understand the tests logic: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/MyersBriggsTypes.png

This is just a childish curiosity, human beings are not robots, and no one can divide us into box's/groups, each individual is unique and complex, even if MBTI was 100% accurate, inside of each type would be infinite number of different micro-individual types, everyone is unique (that is what I believe). But even so I like to read about this stuff just out of curiosity, and when I stumbled upon this particular test it was very accurate and ended up to be a good introspection about sides of myself I was not aware or in conflict at the time, so it was a positive read to me. But certainly it may not be as accurate/useful with others, in fact I was always a very insecure/anxious guy, with many existentialist questions and anguishes in my mind, I think self-confident people don't need to read this kind of things so much. In fact this is not very scientifically, even inside psychology MBTI is not fully accepted, in the past this test was used for things like job hunting and profiles, but nowadays it is not trusted so much, because they found out that people change (duh Mr. obvious!), and an INFP profile today could shift to a ENFP next year, so it is not in stone - fortunately people evolve and grow, no one is born and die the same (I like it more this way) :)
I know that you don't need to read this stuff because you are at peace with yourself and know yourself better than any test will ever say, but just out of curiosity, if you ever feel like reading about INFP descriptions: (the acronyms [INFP, ENTJ, etc] mean nothing in itself, the interesting part is the conclusions and statical data of Jung about each type:
- INFP growth and life main challenges: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/INFP_per.html
-INFP general description: http://personalitycafe.com/infp-articles/12774-socionics-description-bes...
- INFP summary description: http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/infp
-INFP relashionship with others: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/INFP_rel.html
-Summary about the origins of this test: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/info.html

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A lot of different and interesting discussions in the comments :) This blog is a swiss knife of themes :D
About that I'll just say that one view about welfare systems depends a lot on his cultural context. I can understand why it is so negatively viewed in USA, but it is a complex and different context from other places. For instance, here education and health is a right, in USA the system/government make out of it a lucrative business, trough student loans and health care insurances (sorry if I am saying wrong things, I never went to USA, this is only the idea I get indirectly from others and things I read, USA have also amazing things and people). Giving easy money to some people, while exploiting basic needs like education, health, water (maybe because of private water companies interests, I read somewhere that in USA collecting water from rain for domestic use is forbidden – not sure if it is true and in all states) etc - I don't think that a welfare system can work when basic needs aren't covered and private interests exploit them. I think welfare in USA is so negatively viewed because maybe there is not real welfare implementation trough services, only patches through easy money. But this is just an unfunded idea, maybe I am very wrong, it is a very complex thing and I don't know its real context neither solutions, and writing this stuff at 1am sleepy can give bad results/wrong ideas xD

Here in portugal (the only cultural context I know) the welfare system is very important, for instance: I have a degree and a job I'm more or less happy with, only because government paid my studies, otherwise I would never been able to study (family could not afford it), I learned a lot of things I love because of that (creativity works and technologies are my passion). Things like public health system is also very important in here, because otherwise, since we have the lowest minimum wage of europe, a lot of people would not be able to pay for adequate health (I would been dead by now if my parents needed to pay each time I went to a doctor xD). We have more social services that help a lot of people living like decent human beings, with basic needs covered. But of course there are a lot of things that don't work well, and more and more because of this so called “financial crisis” (I would call it financial theft by our government, because inside corruption is the cause), the social system has been going down and we lost a lot of rights because of this “crisis” flag and private interests (now they want to privatize everything, even water[?!?], and prices have gone up because of that). Of course a lot of aspects of our welfare needs to be improved (no free dental care yet, no vet help with expenses like in some countries – england I think - and water is being slowly privatized more and more – I hate this idea, water is essential and free from nature!), but in a general way our welfare system is very important and positive in portugal (curiosity: some years ago our government took education reforms inspired on Finland – from what I read about your educational system I admire it very much – amongst other things). In fact I think that one can't have true democracy without a good and free education system, otherwise people are just lambs voting in wolves (someone I don't remember once said: “I can't believe in a democratic system where the vote of the ignorant has the same power of the vote of the wise one” - this is an extremist idea, not agreed totally with it, but is an interesting idea to reflect: the pillars of democracy are information/education, we need everyone to be wise, a wise population can't be manipulated).

And what I wanted to say originally and why I entered this talk about welfare: An interesting new idea is now being debated here, by some philosophers where I work, and others in EU: “Unconditional Basic Income”. It is a new philosophical/political idea, a new approach, where everyone of every age, working or not, has a basic income guaranteed, that can pay is basic needs and survival expenses (food, water, home, cloths). It is like an evolution of the welfare system, to something even more humanitarian (note: I ended up writing too much, I only wanted to share this new idea, since it is about philosophy and Erkka is a Philosopher, but ended up talking too much about secondary side stuff, damn it, sorry my long texts, will try to write shorter less boring stuff next time – maybe IN's in their nature write too much lol). I find this idea fascinating, because is like we are evolving from an idea of a government that controls mankind with rules and protects men from himself, to an idea of government that helps mankind grow and cultivate the best of himself, freeing men from survival needs (this is the utopia I dream we can get one day). It makes me remember an old poem verse that goes: “I am the bird of Herms, eating my own wings to make me tame” - till now we have been the bird of Herms, electing governments and systems to control us from our own demons (rules against killing, against stealing etc but also side rules like freely camping anywhere we we want – I hate this rule lol, one can't camp in the wilde in portugal :( ), it is like we are dogs electing our own leash, eating our own wings of liberty so we can live without fear inside rules. Maybe the future of humanity is going from the old fear/protection paradigm, to a more caring paradigm, where governments help men getting free of survival needs and reach their inner potential and happiness. But we are yet a long distance from this utopia, no more than a utopia for now, but a “Unconditional Basic Income” could just be a first basic step towards it (or not lol only time will tell).

Thumbs up! =)

First, a technical note: the code running this site allows different text format filters for different user roles. And it seems that I had anonymous user restricted to "plain text"-formatting, where html tags aren't allowed. Also, when setting up the site, I started up tidying the looks and disabled the text format selector. Now I changed the settings so that "filtered HTML" is allowed also for anonymous users, and I (temporarily) re-introduced the format selector. Hehe, there is a lot work with configuration, decoration and styling the site, and I'd like to do that work, but all so often I just end up doing other things instead=)

Then a couple of comments:

I also do like the idea that the comment section is alive, and sparks discussion. I think it is a sign of a friendly atmosphere, that people feel free to express their opinions. And, since I've myself written a couple of blog posts about my own insecure feelings about expressing my own thoughts, I think it is perfectly fine for readers to also post their long uncensored comments. Hehe, and for me, it has been so that when I've written even in those moments when I feel "maybe what I write is stupid, wrong, and too much text, but the heck I write anyway", that anxiety has been slowly melting away. And then, without the anxiety, it also becomes easier to write in a shorter and more focused manner. But, to get there, one sometimes needs to just start with typing out all the half-processed flow of thoughts. So, dear readers, let's keep going this way =)

I also root for Unconditional Basic Income - bundled together with scrapping a good deal of heavy bureaucracy we now have in our welfare system. And, a bit like Mr. Polecat describes the system in USA, we also have some situations when it is financially better not to accept a work and just to receive social security money. And then, some people who really need some support to get back to a better state where they can sustain themselves with a work they do, those people sometimes end up fighting the bureaucracy just trying to prove that they are not trying to milk the system... Uh oh, I'd like to see all of that just ditched. I'd be glad to see part of my tax money being used for a unconditional basic income for everyone. I know there are a lot of people who are against the idea of unconditional basic income, because they feel that it will make people lazy, just leeching the tax payer money, and that it is intuitively plain wrong to give people money for nothing - personally, I do understand that point of view, also. And I know that there isn't that much empirical evidence to settle the issue, so we are more or less left with our hunches, intuitions and feelings. Personally I feel that if people were unconditionally given a small basic income which is barely enough to keep them fed, then people would easily seek a job to earn extra money to make their lives more luxurious. So, I believe that the universal basic income would promote activity, instead of promoting laziness. But this is just my personal hunch, based on the way I see humanity, and I know I can't prove my belief. And, as already said in this comment chain, I also believe that how a unconditional basic income would work, depends on many things. Like the cultural context and the background of people, the availability of education and jobs etc. (All of this might change in unpredictable ways because of more advanced robots doing a greater share of simple, boring and repetitive work. Then we, as a mankind, will face the question: "how to share the profits of robotification in a fair way?"

But I haven't been writing about this kind of thoughts, for a variety of reasons. And one of the reasons is that I feel that to make my ideas clear I would need to write a very long, detailed and boring essay. Since my blog isn't that much a political one, I've decided to stay more on personal and grass-roots level.

I agree with everything. Unconditional Basic Income is indeed a bet, hope our hunche comes true. Otherwise, well, what matters is to keep trying new ideas till we find something better for mankind, I think Einstein once said something like one can't keep "repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results". And this sums up everything in life :)

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